Rafale in Sept: IAF has eyes on bird feeding bowls

The site where a Jaguar fighter plane's fuel tank and practice bomb were dropped by its pilot in an attempt to land safely, after a bird-hit near Ambala on June 27, 2019. (PTI Photo)

Ahead of the arrival of the first Dassault Rafale fighter jet, which is likely in September, at the strategic Ambala airbase in Haryana, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is concerned about an emerging uncanny situation that could turn alarming. 

Scores of earthen and metal bowls kept atop residential houses to feed birds and pigeons food grains and water has left the IAF worried.

Many of these residential premises are not far away from the airfields.

Feeding bowls attract hundreds of birds and pose a threat to IAF aircrafts undertaking routine and other sorties multiple times during the day from this airbase.

Last week, a Jaguar aircraft on a sortie from the Ambala air base was hit by a cluster of birds soon after take-off.

The aircraft had to jettison payloads and fuel to avoid a crash before the pilot returned to the airfield making an emergency landing.

By March next year, another 17 Rafale fighter jets from France are expected to reach the Ambala airbase.

Sources told DH that the Air Force has expressed its concern to the local administration of the looming danger from such unchecked activities by residents.

The administration has been urged to initiate action against those placing feeding bowls for birds atop houses.

Sources indicate that the option of registration of an FIR against violators too is being contemplated.

While the air force routinely takes due precautions to ensure that the birds fly nowhere close to the airfields, the arrival of the Rafale in the next few months has only added to the urgency and concern.

The situation in Ambala needs special attention given that residents unintentionally were acting to facilitate the influx of birds around the airfields.

The Ambala Air Force Station operates under the Western Command. The Mirage 2000 fighter jets that were used for the air strike in Balakotin, Pakistan, after the Pulwama terror attack, took off from the Ambala air base.

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